digging beetle with parasites?
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 8:06 PM
The beetle pictured is quite large and heavy. It is common during certain months in Coto Brus which is about 1100 meters altitude on the Pacific slopes of Talamanca Mts. in southern Costa Rica. This one was on its back and was apparently infested with what look like ticks. I didn’t know ticks parasitised insects. Could you please confirm both the name of the beetle and the creatures in ventral view that appear to be parasites? Third try.
Mary Thorman
highland rainforest sw Costa Rica

Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle

Hi Mary,
Thanks for your persistence. Sadly, we just don’t have time to answer all the letters that we receive. This is some type of Scarab Beetle, probably one of the Dung Beetles. The parasites are Mites. Many Mites are parasitic, but there are also Mites that use flying insects for transportation. These opportunistic Mites often nearly cover certain beetles, most notably Burying Beetles. In the case of the Burying Beetles, the Mites feed on Maggots that infest the carrion that the Burying Beetles lay their eggs upon. That is a symbiotic relationship. The Mites are transported to a new food supply, and the progeny of the Burying Beetles don’t have to compete with the Maggots for a food supply. If this is a Dung Beetle as we suspect, the mites may be using the beetle for transportation, but we suspect, because of their location, that they may be parasitic. We would really need an expert opinion on this matter.

Dung Beetle with Mites:  Parasites or Passengers???

Dung Beetle with Mites: Passengers

Letter from the previous day with additional information
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM parasitic arthropods on beetle
Hi, again! I thought I had sent pictures of this large beetle with what appear to be parasites infesting it. Are the smaller “bugs” on the ventral surface of the beetle ticks? They are very tiny, but . . . kind of icky. And can you help me identify the beetle. They are common during certain times of the year here in the highland rainforests of Costa Rica. They are attracted to lights at night and often bash into window with a loud “bam!” If I go outside I can collect a few to feed to my coatimundi the next day.
Mary Thorman
1100 – 1200 meters altitude, southwestern Costa Rica

Update: From Eric Eaton
Daniel:
The Costa Rican dung beetle is probably in the genus Dichotomius (we have at least one species in the U.S.). Those are indeed phoretic (hitchhiking) mites on it.
Eric

Update: Costa Rican Dung Beetle with Phoretic Mites
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM
Hi Daniel:
Further to Eric’s comments, there are several species of Dichotomius in Costa Rica; D. annae appears to be a very close match. A brown coloration in the posterior portion of the striations on the elytra is characteristic of the species. This feature seems evident in Mary’s photo, although it looks confusingly like the dirt on other parts of the beetle. Regards.
Karl

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dung beetle
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 8:28 AM
Photographed in the Langeberg Range in South Africa in montane fynbos ecosystem. Photo is attached
Brett
Langeberg Range in South Africa

Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle

Hi Brett,
On a good day, we have time to post a few letters before work and possibly a few more after work. We seem to keep choosing your letters because you have such great subject lines. Thanks for enlightening our readership on the appearance of a South African Dung Beetle.

Uh oh, I’m not sure how to interpret this but it sounds like you’re mad
at me and saying – gee, it’s a dung beetle. Maybe (hopefully) I’m
misreading your response. I didn’t mean to offend by submitting a number
of items at once. I’m a nature photographer and I always try to write
accurate and specific IDs for the species I photograph. There are a
number if very similar looking dung bettles here and I couldn’t figure
out what it was. Sorry if I goofed somehow. I do appreciate the help
very much.
Brett

My my no Brett.  You have misread the intent in the short response.
Seriously, when choosing letters, welook at interesting subject lines
since we can’t read them all.  Your letters have had such interesting
subject lines that wechose many of them to read and post.  As you may realize, South Africa does not have many insect sources available on the
internet, so we are unable to identify the exact species.  Please don’t
get the wrong impression. Wecould add general information on
the posting about Dung Beetles. Your submissions have been perfect with only one image per email.  You would be surprised at the number of requests we receive that just say identify our bugs with 10 different images attached.
Have a wonderful day.

Great, I get stressed out when I think people are mad at me. I do
really appreciate the help. I’ll post a gallery for you sometime of all
of the very strange insects I’ve photographed in tropical rainforests
(all are ID’ed already). I’ve got a lot of stuff that you guys would
probably find very interesting. I’ve done a lot of shooting in Costa
Rica and some in the Peruvian Amazon. I did the official photo book on
the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, where I think they
estimate they have 25,000 insects. I have some crazy stuff from there.
I’m in South Africa now photographing baboons.
Thanks,
Brett

Bug orgy in yellow flower
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 8:25 AM
I JUST MADE A DONATION
Photographed in the Langeberg Range in South Africa in montane fynbos ecosystem. Photo is attached
Brett
Langeberg Range in South Africa

Flower Scarabs

Flower Scarabs

Hi Again Brett,
Thanks for the donation. As you may realize, we are a very small operation and we cannot post nor answer every letter that is submitted to our site. We believe these are some species of Flower Scarab in the tribe Trichiini or at least in the Subfamily Cetoniinae , but we don’t have access to many guides of South African insects, so exact identification is beyond our capabilities. You can search the North American BugGuide section on Trichiini to get additional information.

Update:
Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 4:23 PM
Hi Daniel:
These look like Monkey Beetles (Scarabaeidae: Rutelinae: Hopliini), which occur almost exclusively in South Africa. They are pollen feeders and important pollinators. Atypically for beetles, Monkey Beetles are attracted to host flowers visually, not by scent, and they have co-evolved a very close relationship with a number of plant species. Many host plants rely almost exclusively on these beetles for pollination, in some cases on a single beetle species. Host flowers are typically bright yellow, orange or red and many have ‘beetle marks’, distinctive color marks that have been shown to attract Monkey Beetles. Many species are gregarious and aggregations (as in Brett’s photo) are common. As a group, Monkey Beetles are surprisingly diverse given their limited range, and I was not able to make a more precise identification. Regards.
Karl


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is the name of this insect and is it native to Wisconsin?
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 8:06 PM
Dear Bugman,
We found this bug crawling slowly on our bathroom rug. It seems like some type of borer. I haven’t seen something like this before in Wisconsin, especially during the winter months. I brought it outside where it crawled slowly around for a bit on the snow and then I think it died.
Mike Zussman
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Hi Mike,
The Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, is native to the Pacific Northwest, but in the past three decades, it has demonstrated major range expansion.  It is quite possible that an accidental introduction led to its proliferation in the Northeast.  According to BugGuide, it has been reported in over half the lower 48 states now, including Wisconsin.  Western Conifer Seed Bugs often seek shelter indoors when cold weather arrives, but they will not do any damage indoors.

water scorpions share meal
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 10:49 AM
Hi,
I thought you guys might like this picture I took last year. Over the summer I raised several water scorpions, and these are two of them. They were both eating the same damselfly larva at the same time. I thought that this was a rare moment and snapped several shots. I later realized that the darker one had little egg pouches, or mites of some kind on one of its legs, and that there is another damselfly larva on the lighter one’s back. I hope you guys enjoy this image. Thanks again for the awesome site.
Josh Kouri
Oklahoma

Water Scorpions eat Damselfly Naiad

Water Scorpions eat Damselfly Naiad

Hi again Josh,
Thanks for the interesting image of two Water Scorpions feeding on a Damselfly Naiad.  It will be an excellent addition to our Food Chain section.  We took the liberty of adding Oklahoma to your posting as you did not submit your letter using our new form that requires a location.  Adding the location requirement to our online form has saved us the bother of writing back for a location.  Please include a location in any future letters.

Green Milkweed Locust?
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 8:27 AM
Green Milkweed Locust (Phymateus viripides)? Is out of range according to guidebooks but ID seems 99%
Photographed in the Langeberg Range in South Africa in montane fynbos ecosystem. Photo is attached
Brett
Langeberg Range in South Africa

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers

Hi Brett,
How nice to get additional Pyrgomorphid Grasshopper images from you. These immature nymphs may be difficult to identify to the species level since they undergo color changes in the maturation process. Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers are also known as Gaudy Grasshoppers. Since it is now summer in South Africa, we would expect the grasshoppers to be mature. Is it possible this photo was taken earlier in the season?

It was taken about six weeks ago
Thanks,
Brett